Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Clumsy Diplomacy

"I find it really hard to believe that Pope Francis would be too concerned about one gay guy and a feisty nun in a crowd of thousands."
Bishop Gene Robinson
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Pool -- Getty Images

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the United States will be present at a soiree to which countless guests were invited to greet Pope Francis at the White House. The decision to have transgender rights activists and a former gay bishop come along to the welcoming ceremony in Washington represents a diplomatic faux pas. Of course President Obama can invite anyone he cares to at a function taking place at the White House.

But that some delicacy of feeling was not entertained seems strange. The position of the Catholic Church on abortion, on gay marriage, on straight clergy is well enough known and it is immutable. Irrespective of the relaxed attitude of this Pope, he expresses his personal welcome to all and sundry, but he does not invite them to feel comfortable in the bosom of the Catholic Church.

They have always been regarded as outliers, and this will not change during his reign.

Tact is certainly absent with the engagement of the guest list.

The White House made no effort to consult with the Vatican over the guest list. A list that contains the names of 15,000 individuals. The Pope will, without doubt, take the issue and the controversy arising from it all in stride. As an issue, after all, it hasn't a very high rating, not with so many other critical occurrences taking the attention of this social activist Pope.

On the other hand, it does speak volumes of the tone-deaf attitude of the Obama administration in failing to observe the most basic of courtesies; to do nothing to deliberately embarrass the presence of an honoured guest.


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